Time and time again, we see pastors and elders who are grieving over the yeast they see spreading through their denominations and into their own sanctuaries. This is part of the great falling away Jesus warned about, but many never believed it could hit so close to home. It can and it does. Sadly but predictably, many who attempt to stop or expose the creeping darkness with the light of Truth are swiftly silenced with a stern warning not to speak, or worse: they lose their positions.
A Calvary Chapel pastor who warned of false teachings and apostate movements seeping into the Calvary Chapel organization has been removed from his regional leadership position, and is now taking an even bolder stand: He is removing his local congregation out of the Calvary Chapel Association altogether.
Pastor Dwight Douville of Calvary Chapel Appleton Wisconsin was informed last month that he was being removed from his position as a regional leader, a position he’s held for many years. Why? He says because personal friendships have been put above doctrinal truth, muddying the waters of what Calvary Chapels are all about. And because he advocated for maintaining and staying the course while calling out wolves and yeast seeping into Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the organization as a whole since the death of founder Chuck Smith.
“Back in March, I sent out the first of 2 letters regarding ongoing concerns about the direction of Calvary Chapels since the passing of Pastor Chuck. In both the primary letter and follow up, many of us had hoped that the CCA Council would follow up and see what could be done to address these concerns.
Instead, I was told that the real reason for my recent removal from leadership in Wisconsin following the release of my March letters isn’t related to how I asked pertinent questions about the direction of CCs, it’s that I asked at all and actually sent it out. This is not the first time a pastor who dared ask questions has been sanctioned either.”
While not an official denomination, Calvary Chapel churches operate autonomously and share a commitment to the doctrinal distinctives outlined by Smith. But in recent years many CCA leaders are no longer holding to those distinctives.
The Calvary Chapel Association is seemingly (though not officially) under the leadership influence of Smith’s son-in-law Brian Brodersen, who inherited the pulpit at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa with his marriage to Chuck Smith’s daughter, Cheryl. Since Smith’s death, many changes have occurred at CCCM as the “new Calvary” replaces the “old Calvary” under new leadership (Brodersen even changing Calvary’s dove logo). Case in point, Brodersen’s first media interview with Christianity Today titled, “A Case for Big Changes at Calvary Chapel.”
Douville says the ongoing problems have been of concern to many Calvary pastors, church members, and former members who he says are, “grieved by the lack of care on the part of CC leadership in protecting the sheep from wolves that have walked right through the front door of Calvary Chapel, which has always been known for its distinctive doctrinal views that are now being compromised for the sake of unity.”
These eyebrow-raising concerns have not gone unnoticed by news outlets and other Christian groups. In particular:
Greg Laurie’s endorsements of the Azusa anniversary and teaming up with NAR’s Lou Engle Catholic mystic Roma Downey, Introducing Contemplative Advocates Gungor and David Crowder, and leading a Joint worship with a Catholic Priest.
Laurie’s endorsement of Calvary Chapel pastor Steve Berger’s book “Have Heart” containing false teaching about necromancy which the bible prohibits;
Phil Metzger’s bridge to and endorsement of seeker guru Bill Hybels and other similar Druckerite churches by default;
Calvary Chapels aligning with the Acts 29 Church Planting ministry with Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll.
Brian Brodersen’s endorsement of the Anglican/Catholic Alpha Course and his cooperation with Anglican priest Nicky Gumbel for the sake of his annual “Creationfest”;
Brodersen’s statement on Pastors Perspective of 9/11/14 (43:05 mark) where he states “Catholicism IS Christianity” in response to a caller’s questions:
Brodersen’s recent quoting of New Ager Eugene Petersen, and Affirmed Yes to the question, “Can I Attend My LGBT Friend’s Wedding?”
Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels teaching at Calvary Chapel Golgota, Budapest
Women in the pulpit.
Rick Warren’s invitation to CC founder Chuck Smith’s funeral, and Warren’s and Mark Driscoll’s videotaped memorials that were broadcast.
Of Warren’s appearance at Chuck Smith’s memorial, Douville says the pastors and members were stunned and asked questions. “The answer we got was that Rick Warren simply walked up on stage uninvited and turned the spotlight on himself to everyone’s surprise, but we’ve learned that just isn’t true. Those who asked about this were told he just appeared on the stage, with a chair already set up for him (or someone) and we are asked collectively to believe that,” Douville says. Later, he learned that it was Brian Brodersen who invited Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll, ignoring pleas from others in leadership not to invite them.
Douville isn’t the only Calvary Chapel pastor who has weighed the cost of staying in an organization that has shifted from its original mission into unbiblical waters. Many CC pastors have come the same conclusion, saying they feel they can no longer in good conscience be under the same doctrinal and fellowship umbrella as the current leadership of Calvary Chapels.
As for Douville, sound doctrine was the deciding factor. He made the announcement to his flock and to Calvary Chapel pastors:
The board of Calvary Chapel of Appleton has unanimously decided that we are no longer under the authority of, or a part of CC Association in any way, shape, or form. We will continue to call ourselves Calvary Chapel of Appleton and remain committed to the Calvary Distinctives as outlined by Pastor Chuck. As a fellowship we are taking an irrevocable stand and are in the process of determining what the next step will be as we continue to pursue truth.
Stay tuned as more may follow suit.